Some travellers arriving from Nunavut will now be allowed to skip the usual 14-day isolation period on a case-by-case basis, the NWT government says.
The territories previously had a “travel bubble” allowing freedom of travel between the two without isolation, but that ended when an outbreak of Covid-19 hit the Nunavut community of Arviat in November.
On Thursday, the NWT’s chief public health officer said her office would now consider incoming Nunavut travellers’ requests for exemption from isolation.
“They will still need to submit a self-isolation plan and exemption request through Protect NWT and must receive an approved exemption letter from the chief public health officer before they can be exempt from self-isolation,” Dr Kami Kandola’s office said in a news release.
“Anyone who has already arrived in the NWT from Nunavut can also apply for a retroactive exemption by contacting Protect NWT. This means anyone who has arrived in the NWT and is already self-isolating can still apply for an exemption.
“If it is approved by the chief public health officer, that person would no longer have to self-isolate.”
Anyone applying for an exemption must have been in Nunavut or the NWT for at least the past 14 days.
They cannot have any symptoms of Covid-19, cannot have been a named contact of a person with Covid-19, and cannot have been notified that they were part of a Covid-19 outbreak, the territory said.
Exemptions won’t be granted to travellers coming from a community where travel restrictions are in place, a place where community spread of Covid-19 is happening, or a work site or closed camp in Nunavut where out-of-territory workers are employed.
Anyone given an exemption will have to wear a mask in public settings where social distance can’t be maintained for the first 14 days after arriving in the NWT.
If a traveller receives an exemption, members of their household are also exempt. (Ordinarily, anyone isolating in a household triggers isolation for the other occupants of that household.)
“There are strong ties between the NWT and Nunavut. Many of our residents have friends and family in Nunavut and vice-versa,” said health minister Julie Green in a statement.
“As we continue our rollout of vaccinations and more NWT residents build up immunity to Covid-19, the NWT will continue looking at ways to expand our bubble across the North.
“Considering exemptions for travellers from Nunavut arriving in the NWT is an important step in this process as we gradually and safely emerge from this pandemic.”